Thursday, December 06, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! BRAIN BOY #1330 (Dell Comics, April-June 1962, available from
Golden Age Reprints)

Until recently, I never knew much about the Dell comics line other'n a few blurbs in that one comic strip history collection I fondly remember from my youth. From that book I learned that Dell was the first company to put out comic books, and at the time of that book's publication they were still publishing TIP TOP, a title which I thought was hot since they ran not only the NANCY and CAPTAIN AND THE KIDS comic book-only stories but the PEANUTS ones which have finally been collected in book form after years of totally unwarranted neglect.

I also used to think that Gold Key, who were rather omnipresent on comic book racks when I was a youth, was Dell under a new name. Seemed logical since both titles dealt with the usual kid comic strip characters as well as comparatively stiffly drawn adventure-type fare and both did not subscribe to the Comics Code. It wasn't until years later that I learned the two companies were in no way connected. Chalk up another youthful misconception that dogged me for many a year...

In the midst of all my confusion I did snatch up one Dell title from Golden Age Reprints, the debut issue of a title I had no knowledge of but purchased if only for the weirdo front cover pic. And yeah, BRAIN BOY is just about everything one would expect from an early-sixties Dell comic, not only with the rather plain artwork but the Cold War saga as well as the Science Fiction angle that seemed to mingle well with the whole Brave New Future we were promised in 1962 but never did get. These three elements crammed into a nice if pricey (fifteen cents!) comic put together did make for a fairly decent combination of up to date relevant comic book fare for I rather enjoyed this 'un despite the more "cultured" comic kiddoid in mine soul screeching at me to do otherwise.

Origin-wise, BRAIN BOY couldn't get any more early-sixties to-the-point-of-it-all. An auto accident where a blown tire on a 1961 Dodge rams into a power line leaves Matt Price dead, though his with child wife Mary miraculously escapes. Son Matt Jr. is born and is shown to have the power of telepathy, ESP, and the ability to move objects with mere thought (including his own self). He keeps his powers secret even to his mother (the kids threatened to beat him up when he moved someone's bike) and, while stag at the high school prom, he's approached by a man with similar powers who wants Price to get into some spy work considering those were the early-sixties and tensions were pretty rife if you ask me. Well, better'n had this been the early-seventies and Brain Boy woulda been solving all those "relevant" problems we had inna world just like Green Lantern and Green Arrow did!

In this inaugural issue Brain Boy is sent to one of those mythical Central Amerigan countries where the rulers that be certainly don't cozy up to Unca Sam like they woulda (this area is referred to as "The Sombrero Curtain"!). A Xochtan (that's the name of the nation!) composer named Hillary Gomez (that's right!) has returned from Ameriga to his native land for a music festival. During a speech on music he suddenly goes into an anti-Amerigan diatribe and is shot drive by style by a bunch of United Statesers which turns the entire affair into one massive international hoo-hah! It's up to Brain Boy to really use his mind to get to the bottom of what's happening where along the way he forces an assassin named Anka (!) to kill himself, affixes shoe polish to his face in order to disguise himself as a Xochtan soldier (leaving his blond locks alone) and of course on the way meets up with a pretty senorita who, surprise surprise, turns out to have telepathic powers herself!

Yes it's a winner in my book even if the story turns out more military than paranormal, and for a change of early-sixties comic book pace I'm sure BRAIN BOY did have enough of an appeal for those unlucky kids who got to the newsstand long after the big name DC and Marvel titles were long gone (and hadda pay an extra three cents for it t'boot!).

A coupla weirdo things about this mag...first off, the guy seen flying about like Superman onna cover is...oddly enough...NOT Brain Boy at all but his mentor who, while having similar powers, is just not the kinda guy one wants to see on the cover of a comic book! I mean, the real deal hero is a whole lot more youthful and appealing to the comic book grabbing kinda kid---why stick some mid-aged guy there who's sure to draw in a whole lot fewer readers even if he does look weird enough! Also strange is when, on page one, when right after the crash it is written that although Matt Price had died in the accident "his pregnant (my itals.) wife escapes"! I gotta say that, prior to the "Pregnancy Chic" movement of the very early-seventies (which had my mom rushing up to change the channel whenever a big-bellied gal would pop up...even GET SMART succumbed to the fad!) these things were better left hushed up even if Wilma Flintstone and Samantha Stevens were obviously showing and DRAGNET would frequently mention knocked up teenagers who were in trouble with the law as early as the fifties! I dunno, it all seems just too "risque" reading that word in an early-sixties comic book and yeah, I do feel kinda "filthy" about the whole thing myself!

Do what I BRAIN BOY but go wash up after you're done reading the first page, hokay?

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